This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves
The goal for the second day on our Great Wall Walk was to conquer the Simatai section of wall which is 5.4 km. (3.5 mi.) long. That’s not so far, I hear you say! But this section contains 34 beacon towers and that suggests a lot of ups and downs between towers, does it not? And so it proved to be. This part of the wall is divided into two parts – the somewhat gentler western section with 18 well-preserved towers – and the eastern, much steeper section, with 16 more crumbly towers. I have also divided my musings for the day into two sections – part a and part b!
To tackle the day, we needed a good breakfast. Annie knew what she needed; she’d supplied it for herself. Vegemite! That black goo that many Australians are fond of. But… how do you spread Vegemite on toast when there’s not a knife in sight? Watch the clip.
We’d spent the night at the 300 bed ‘Hyangya Mountain Villa Guesthouse’ a ‘designated place’ to stay for foreigners and Chinese alike. 120 km from Beijing, it’s located near the city of Tianjin in ‘the Eight Diagrams city of the Great Wall scenic spot.’ The hotel is described as being a “typical quadrangle courtyard with opening character, which can ease your business tension, relax and enjoy your tourist life.” Why bother writing my own description!
T’was time to begin our day’s walk.
I looked back along a hotel path bedecked with garden flowers
and hoped that I would find wildflowers in those mountains beyond the hotel.
As we left this rather imposing entrance to the guesthouse,
we knew that we were leaving behind any vestige of comfort for the rest of the day.
The first task of the day was to hike up the hill to get to the Wall.
This section of the Wall is denoted as the gentler section across rolling hills.
It is NOT restored and at times is little more than a rough path.
That’s me decked out in my UoN Great Wall Walk T shirt. Fetching, isn’t it?
And yes, I had just walked down that path, sometimes 30 cm wide with a drop off.
More like mountain goat country than our usual notion of the Great Wall of China.
A quick rest, some water and a photo op. at one of the towers.
It was overcast and very humid.
The view ahead… more towers; more ups and downs; more rough paths.
This was not going to be a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon.
But for the horticulturist in me, there were many delightful compensations.
How could I not stop to enjoy Campanula; blue bells… with dew drops?
As you’ll find in these musings, there was a wide variety of plants to enjoy.
I think this is a Sedum sp.
DSC00402 © DY of jtdytravels
Berries of a Berberis sp.
Red is one colour that’s often hard to get right in a photo, especially a shiny red.
My new Sony (HX90V) captured these red berries just right.
The team plodded onwards and upwards to the next ridge.
Another delightful bloom belonging to the ‘pea’ family.
Four Chinese guides accompanied us on the walk.
Not another soul to be seen. We were on our own on the Great Wall of China!
How could a pollinator ignore this flower’s ‘guiding runway’?
Nature is quite wonderful, if we take time to look at the detail in the small things
as well as the grandeur of the wider view.
It’s been said that “The Great Wall is the best of Chinese buildings, and that the Simatai section of the Wall is the best of the Great Wall.” It certainly provided amazing views.
Another ‘pea’ flower.
As usual, the humble daisy is represented amongst the wildflowers here.
How perfect is this flower?
This plant is unknown to me. If you know it, please let me know.
Another plant unknown to me.
The delicate blue bells of a Campanula sp. enhance an already magnificent view.
I’m looking back at the tower we had come through earlier (photo 407).
Aconitum sp. known commonly as Monkshood.
Daisies inevitably attract bees.
Another climb; more unstable, crumbly path; another tower.
But what a view from the top!
From here, we were about head into the steeper section of the day’s walk.
More of that anon.
All photography Copyright © David Young of jtdytravels
Link to our target charity: “Shaping Futures” for UoN students in need